Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It Has Been A Good Year

I started 2014 pregnant with hope and great expectations. It has been a year of key milestone celebrations in my immediate and extended family. It is a year I longed to see the fulfillment of my dreams and desires, and the manifestations of the things I have travailed in prayers before God.

Yet, going by my circumstances at the beginning of the year, I could relate with Zechariah when he asked, “How can I be sure of this?” It was mind-boggling to imagine how these things which I earnestly desired of the Lord will come to pass.

But my hope was anchored on the unfailing promises of God. He said that we shall not see the rain or hear the wind but our ditches shall be filled with water. He promised that our dry valleys shall be filled. He promised that we will recover all that was stolen, wasted and destroyed in our lives without fail and with recompense. I knew that He is infinitely faithful and reliable.

So I went to the bank with the non-negotiable and solid cheque of the truth of His Word. I resolved to standout and demonstrate my uniqueness and earnestly pursue God’s unique purpose for my life. I resolved to take definite and concrete steps towards my God-ordained dreams.

It has been a good year indeed. I have to say that God truly overwhelmed me. I am amazed and astonished at the mysterious ways God worked to perform His wonders in our lives. Each milestone birthday we celebrated was a testimony of God causing men to pour into our bosom in good measures. God’s provisions for us at times of dire need were simply an awesome display of His faithfulness to His word.

One of our greatest desires as a family has been that the Lord will use us and our testimony to impact lives for good and inspire hope. I cannot but give all praise and thanks to God for the many opportunities that He opened to us this year to share our testimony. I marvel at the way God has been using what He did in our lives to encourage others to hold on and not give up on hope. The pure joy, friends and families expressed on our behalf and the praise they offered to God, each time we shared the stories of God’s amazing works in our lives is beyond description.

It was with the abounding grace and enablement of God that we made great strides to do the great exploits we know God called us to do.

Hands of Grace Creations:
My handmade beading business made its debut in March 2013. It provided me with the opportunity to share the story God’s grace at work in me as each piece of jewellery is a piece of my testimony and bears a name that denotes God’s amazing grace abounding in me. It is my prayer that everyone who wears my jewellery will be reminded that God is infinitely faithful in keeping His promise. I am trusting God to enlarge the business in 2015 for His glory.

Feet of Grace Ministries and Foundation:
The vision for the ministry and foundation became clear. We understood better what the Lord is calling us to do to. Our mission is two-fold:
-          Share the story of God’s grace through all the storms of my life to inspire hope in those facing challenging situations
-          Create opportunities through fundraising for those who are compelled to sit down in a stand-up world to stand and walk again.
Some activities have been initiated already this year. I have a great outlook for 2015 to see the vision blossom and made manifest. Watch this space for more information in the New Year.

My Outstanding Work-in-progress:
The book has morphed to reflect the central theme of God’s dealings in my life as I learnt this year to stay focussed. “Grace For The Storm” is still not finished. I am not where I hoped to be yet with the book. But I have made great strides in rewriting and restructuring the book. I am not giving up on the hope of completing this assignment. I am so grateful to God for the many people He raised up to keep me accountable. I am compelled to stay focussed and complete this book.

In 2014, I made significant new connections and strengthened old ones. I am truly blessed to have in my life wonderful friends and family who encourage me and inspire me on this journey of living a purposeful and impactful life.

There are still a number of things that I am trusting God to do in my life and in the lives of my loved ones, and there are things in my circle of concern for which I am still travailing in pray. But I have this confidence of hope that the Lord Who has remained consistently faithful throughout this year will accomplish these desires in His own time and in His own way.

I bless God for the three amazing men in my life:
-          My courageous mighty man of valour who encourages me and gives me the space to be the best God has called me to be and to pursue God’s calling on my life. It is with his support that I can live my dream. He has been my greatest cheerleader.
-          My young men of purpose have brought much joy to my life. Watching them mature and pursuing life with passion and purpose fills my heart to overflowing praise and thanks to God. They believe in me and spur me on.

I am so grateful to God for each one of you who have shared this space with me. It is because you are here to read that I am compelled to keep writing. I am grateful for every minute you have spent to read my “lengthy” messages and to give a feedback. Thank you so much for being a part of making 2014 a great year for me and for my family.

I pray that 2015 will be a year of great visitation of the Lord for you and your family.  I pray that you will be empowered in every way to know God the more and to grow in the revelation of His will for you. I wish you a Happy and Prosperous 2015.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Out Of My Control

For many years, I travailed in prayer over these intractable situations. For months, I beseeched God for a change. For the past few weeks, my heart was weighed down under the heavy burden. They were issues within my circle of concern. I yearned for a change. I longed to see broken relationships restored. I desired a breakthrough the walls that hitherto resisted progress and improvement in certain situations. I wanted to see a Sarah laugh.

I cried out to God, “I know there is nothing impossible for You to do.”

I asked the Lord to give me the mountain looming before me for a possession. “Give me this mountain, O Lord or make it plain.”

I wanted to the power to fix the situation, which laid before me like a pile of a million pieces of puzzles.

But I also knew that I cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit, so I petitioned God to do what only He can do—change hearts and change situations.

These situations were out of my circle of control.

On Thursday, December 11th, 2014, I woke up with an irritation along the suture line on my rib-cage. Soon the irritating itch became a full blown throbbing ache in my chest. By mid-day, I was agonizing in pain. It did not respond to the painkillers or steroid. But I still went for my Moms’ Prayer meeting. It was the last one for the year and we planned to have lunch afterwards. We prayed about the pain. I was restless through the lunch. The pain was radiating deep in my right shoulder and my right arm felt numb.

Back at home, I tried to reach my husband far away in New Delhi. I needed his medical opinion and guidance. The painkillers were not effective, and I was crying out to the Lord for relief. It was at this stage, I had to call my GP. He asked me to call my Pulmonary Specialist at the Teaching Hospital. I was hesitant. I knew what was likely to follow that call. They asked me to come into the ER immediately. In a short while, the ambulance arrived at my doorstep. This was not on my arm-long agenda for that day. But the situation had spiralled out of my control.

All the way to the hospital, I struggled to reject all the suggestions of the enemy. I refuted them with the word of God. But all the things that I had dreamt to accomplish this year and those initiated flashed across my mind. It was a long list of unfinished tasks.

The next few hours confirmed again that the last place anyone want to be is in the ER, especially during this season. The pain was controlled. They ran a battery of tests to confirm the situation was not life-threatening and the suspicion was proved false. But I began to have another bout of irritating itch. I was having an allergic reaction. This time it was generalized. I itched from the top of my head to the tip of my stump. The course of steroids offered no relief. The doctors were not willing to increase the dose of the steroids. They had to determine the best antihistamine to use given my peculiar situation.

It was 2:00am. The itching was unbearable. The doctors were attending to critical situations. Unable to control the itching, sleep deprived, physically and emotionally fatigued, I crumbled on the bed. I was overwhelmed by the intensity of the itching, which I could not control. I was overwhelmed by the other issues out of my control. And the dam broken.

The nurses heard me crying and came into my cubicle.

“Pourquoi, Madame? Pourquoi vous pleurez?”

I heard her ask why I was crying. She touched my shoulder. My body was folded in a crumbled state as I sat on my stumps, my head laid between my knees and my arms over my head. I did not respond but continued crying.

“Madame?” she shook my shoulders. I lifted my tear-drenched face. There were two of them standing over me. I motioned my hands over my body.

“J’arrive.” She went out of the cubicle and the second nurse took her place, holding my shoulders. In a minute, she was back with a bottle of oil. She asked if they could apply the oil on my burning skin while we await the doctors. Indeed, they anointed my body from my face to my stumps. It cooled down the itch. It was like the balm of Gilead that calmed my wearied body.

A few days later, a dear Sista tagged me in a post on Facebook. I read the post and these words became engraved in my heart:

Those things in your circle of concern but out of your circle of control are definitely not out of God’s control. They are in God’s control and in God’s hands.”

It was a clear message from God. Like the oil the nurses applied on my body, the words were like a soothing salve on my burdened heart. It was the third message the Lord impressed on my heart within two weeks during which I pondered on all situations for which I sought a resolution, and to unravel the convoluted and knotted issues in my circle of concern.

God had ministered to my agonizing heart during the preceding week. First, I was reminded of the many instances in the Bible of when God proved Himself to be the God over impossibilities.

“For with God nothing shall be impossible.” – Luke 1:37

Faced with Goliath who kept taunting the people Israel and their God, David received divine strategy and intervention that gave him the much desired victory over the Philistines. I was reminded that there was a murderous Saul who the Lord touched and turned to Paul. I was also reminded that the dead body of Lazarus was already emitting odour from decay, yet God raise him from the dead and restored him to the fullness of life.

I knew there is no situation too far gone for God to turn around and there is no heart too hard for God to touch. I was reminded that the things which are impossible for man are possible for God. I can’t fix the situation. I can’t unravel the knots. But God can. I was encouraged to surrender all the issues burdening my heart to the One Who specializes in doing the impossible.

The second message, God impressed on my heart was;

Wait with joy, hope and praise.

It can be really hard to wait especially as another year comes to an end and you have yet to see your dreams and desires fulfilled. It is difficult to wait when the longing desire for a change burn with an aching heat in your heart. Waiting is serious business. Yet I know that God has called us to with hope anchored on His unfailing promises. He asked us to wait with joy overflowing from the assurance of hope and with praise because we know faithful is He Who has promised.

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise” – Hebrews 10:23.

If God said it, He will do it. God is infinitely faithful to keep His promise and fulfil His word.

I was encouraged to wait with praise because God is Omnipotent. He is infinitely capable of putting His Omnipotent power on display in each of the situations I presented before Him. He can do all things. There is nothing too hard or difficult for Him. There is no purpose of God that can be thwarted. He is the One Who upholds the entire universe by the Word of His power.

I knew praise is a very effective weapon of warfare. I knew that as I acknowledge God’s limitless power in praise, I am also calling it into manifestation in my life, in the lives of those in my circle of concern and in the situations out of my control.

The flurry of events screaming like oversized billboards and reminding me of the seemly insurmountable mountains were intent on blurring my vision from God’s omnipotent power, which is able to change the most difficult and extreme situation. They sought to distract my attention from His amazing goodness in our lives this year. So I became even the more determined to offer exuberant praise to God.

With this came the confidence of hope that I can rely on God Who resurrected the dead. He is able to resurrect dead dreams and dead relationships, and turn dead ends to open doors. The more I praised God in the midst of the situation, the more I was energized to dare to dream of a change, to dream of restoration and to dream of victory.

I asked that the Lord to give those in my circle of concern yielded hearts. I asked on their behalf for a broken and a contrite heart, and a willingness to let God have full control. I prayed for a deeper understanding of God’s power to work out His purpose in our lives.

As 2014 rolls to an end, perhaps you find yourself in a similar situation, faced with mountains of impossibilities and surrounded by challenges, I encouraged you with these same words with which the Lord encouraged me:

Those things in your circle of concern but out of your circle of control are definitely not out of God’s control. They are in God’s control and in God’s hands.”

God has it all under control. Wait for Him with praise, with hope and with joy. He is infinitely reliable. He is Omnipotent.

Match into 2015 with the confidence of this hope and assurance, and with an uplifted face. May the hope that comes only from knowing God as the Omnipotent Father and Jesus as Lord fill your hearts and home with great joy this Christmas.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Pause…Observe….And Ponder

I walked through the revolving doors of the Hopitaux Universitaires de Geneve (HUG) with a spring in my step.

Full of life. Full of energy. Full of joy.

Then I saw him. He was sitting on the grey metal chair by the door of the café. In a glance, I took note of the details. He was dressed in the hospital light floral gown. He had a nasal tube connected to the oxygen bottle on the floor between his feet. I recognized the fatigue on his face and the arching shoulders due to the labour of breathing.

Images flashed through my mind. For seven years I carried a similar oxygen bottle. I could not count the number of times I sat on the same chair exhausted from the labour of breathing, waiting for my husband to bring the car close to the door. I saw the many times I passed through the same revolving door, every step was an effort, with the oxygen bottle hanging on my shoulders.

My heart was overwhelmed with memory of the goodness of God.

The storm has passed. The heavy dark clouds have been lifted. The sun is shining bright in the sky.

I have been captivated by Psalm 145 for the past three months. The intensity of David’s praise flooded my heart as I pondered on this event days after.

David declared in verse 7 that everyone will abundantly utter the memory of God’s goodness. They will share the story of God’s wonderful goodness.

Charles Spurgeon in his sermon in 1879 said, “we shall be helped to abundant praise by careful observation." In order for us to have a memory of God’s goodness, and then abundantly utter it in exhilarating praise, we must first of all make an observation of it.

“A man does not remember what he never knew” – Charles Spurgeon.

The proportion to which a fact or a truth makes an impression on our minds is the proportion to which it is likely to abide in our memory. And what we meditate on for long enough becomes the reality of our lives. The question therefore is this;

Is the goodness of God daily making an impression on our minds?

If we want to remember the goodness of God, we must let it strike us. We must take notice of it. We must consider it. We must ponder on it. We must meditate on it. We must let its full influence be exerted on our hearts.

The sight of the man on supplemental oxygen struck me as I walked into the hospital that day for my routine check-up. I took notice of the man’s situation. I remembered that I was once in a similar situation for many years. I paused and pondered on the amazing goodness of God which brought the change to my life.

Our acknowledgement of the goodness and mercies of God will become vocal and exuberant when we have it imprinted on our memory. It is from the memory of His rich goodness to us that praises will gush from our mouths like torrential water flowing through a stream. Heated by our fervency, our praises to God distils into vapour that rises up to heaven.

“So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
drinking in Your strength and glory.
In Your generous love I am really living at last!
My lips brim with praises like fountains.
I bless You every time I take a breath;
My arms wave like banners of praise You.”
(Psalm 63: 2-4)

We can never praise God enough or too much because there are no limits to the outpouring of His goodness upon our lives.

There is no denying that God is good to all. Everything He does is suffused with grace. His tender mercies and compassion are over every single one of us created in His image—you and me inclusive. Evidences abound of God's rich goodness and mercies to each of us every moment of each day. If we pause and make take note of them, they become committed to our memory from whence they will ignite an eruption of abundant praise to God.

But many times we are blinded to God’s abounding grace and kindness to us. This is because our vision become blurred as we focus on the challenges we are facing, the storms raging and whirling around us, and the heavy dark clouds that are looming over us.

Often we forget that in the midst of each storm, God is present there with us to hold us steady as a post. Often we forget that no matter how grey, dark and heavy the looming clouds may be, the sun is still shining high above the clouds. So also is God’s love and kindness still radiating its warmth to us in the midst of the challenges and difficulties we are going through.

God always does what is right not what we want. He is always on time, not a minute early, not a second late. There is nothing we need that God cannot provide according to His will, in His own time and in His own way. He clothes the wildflowers of the valley and feeds the birds in the air. I am far more valuable that these. If this be the case, then I have no reason to be anxious or allow myself to be downcast or morose. I can be joyful in the knowledge of God’s unfailing goodness even when it may seem that it is not evident. So can you, because you count more to God than lilies and sparrows. You can abandon yourself in His loving care.

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28)

The ability to make a deliberate effort to take note of, observe, focus and ponder on the goodness of God is a learned behaviour. You learn to do it. You commit to doing it.

Whenever the storms are raging, remember His constant presence and His promise never to leave you alone or forsake you. Whenever the clouds are heavy and dark, lift your eyes up to an altitude where you will see the sun is shining above the clouds. Let the brightness that sun illuminate the goodness of God in your life so that you can observe and take note of it. Make an inventory of the goodness of God in your life each day, and let the recollection of His acts of wonder imprinted in your memory ignite an abundant praise to God right there in the midst of the challenges—because God is good ALL the time.

As 2014 rolls to an end, I encourage you through the course of each day to pause, observe, and ponder on the many rich blessings being poured into your life. I challenge you to seek every opportunity to praise and magnify the name of the Infinite God without limit. Make a joyful noise of thanksgiving.

May the praise and adoration of our ever-faithful God flow continually from your mouth.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Show Your Gratitude Through Your Generosity

God has been extravagantly generous to us, lavishing His goodness and unfailing love on us. The good things God has stored up for us who fear Him are immensely abundant and He bestows His goodness on us in the sight of all who have eyes to see.

How great is the goodness You have stored up for those who fear You. You lavish it on those who come to You for protection, blessing them before the watching world. (Psalm 31:19 NLT).
I am a recipient of God’s overflowing goodness and immeasurable blessings. My expectations at the beginning of 2014 were mind-boggling. It was humanly impossible to see how the things that I was looking up to God for could come to pass. “How shall these things be?” I pondered so many times. Today, I can look back and declare like David in Psalm 145:

I will meditate on Your majestic, glorious splendour and Your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim Your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of Your wonderful goodness;
They will sing with joy about Your righteousness

Surely, you too can recall and recount the goodness of God in your life in 2014. There is no one who has nothing to be grateful for, because God is good to everyone. He showers His love and compassion on all His creation. Everything God does is suffused with grace. This passage calls all of us to share the story of God’s wonderful goodness in our lives.

How then can we show our gratitude for God’s awesome goodness to us?
Paraphrasing The Message translation of Psalm 145: 5-7, we can demonstrate our gratitude by making His marvelous deeds to us headline news, writing a book full of the details of His greatness and spreading the fame of His goodness across the world. Simply put, David encourages us to make our gratitude to God fluent and evident.

Gratitude is more than a feeling, it has to be demonstrated by what we do. Our gratitude to God must be Told and Shown. Our thankfulness and appreciation of God should be expressed not only by our words but also by our deeds.

Gratitude is not just an occasional expression of thanks, but a continual lifestyle of thanksgiving. It is being thankful and grateful for every single thing that God is doing in our lives day by day.

Fluent and abundantly uttered:
David was very generous in uttering his praise to God for His goodness towards him. He declared God’s greatness with fervency and fluency. We are to tell of what God has done in our lives with zeal, glowing in the warmth of His love. We can never exceed the truth when we speak of God’s extravagant goodness with fervency. We are not to be silent witnesses but fluent in our testimony.

We ought to feel His praise deeply in our hearts and openly declare it. We should publicly speak of His goodness and joyfully proclaim it in songs. This is a good point to pause and let your mouth speak generously of the praise of God.

I will praise You.
              I will extol You.
                             I will bless Your Name.
                                           Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.

Evident and passionately demonstrated:
Just as we have been admonished to generously utter the praises of God, our lives should also speak out loudly of the goodness which we have experienced in God. We cannot overdo it when we passionately demonstrate by our actions and with zeal our gratitude to God, especially through our acts of generosity. We only exhibit the nature of God in us and reflect His divine attribute to the world around us.

Gratitude is shown in acts – Henri Frederic Amiel

We are called to show our gratitude to God by being generous to our needy brothers and sisters. Paul was very explicit that reaching out to the needy in our midst is an evidence of our obedience to God.

Generosity puts our obedience to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ on display.

"Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!" 
(2 Corinthians 9:12-15 MSG).

Make sure you dont take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets. (Hebrews 13:16 MSG)

If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. (1 John 3:17-18 NLT)

Generosity, a multiplying factor:
Generosity demonstrates our gratitude to God and impacts the lives of the people it touches. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgiving to God. In addition to these, there is a promise of a reward attached to it. Generosity reaches out to others as an overflow of our gratitude to God and it brings back more blessings to us.

"I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness. At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus." (Philippians
4:17-19 NLT)

Those of us who have experienced God’s extravagant goodness in our lives are called to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. By so doing, we will build a treasury that will last and we gain life that is truly life.

Dear Friends, I desire that you to experience the blessings that issues from generosity. Let someone around you be impacted with your expression of gratitude. As our friends in US celebrate Thanksgiving today and we enter the Christmas season, we are provided with an ample opportunity to demonstrate our gratitude through our generosity.

What can you do?
1.       Be generous in showing mercy and offering forgiveness.
2.       Offer hospitality. Open your homes to the brethren graciously without complaining.
3.       Be open to needs in your family, church and community and reach out to meet those needs.

The simplest and most powerful way to show gratitude is to be truly present, being generous with your time and attention. Your family will be glad for this.

In what ways can you make a unique dent in the world around you as an act of your gratitude to God?

Father, thank You for the way You provide for every area of my life. I am grateful for everything I have. I am grateful that You are always doing special things in my life, Lord. I choose to be generous in my praise and gratitude to You. I ask for the grace to demonstrate my gratitude by allowing You to use my life to touch lives. Help me to recognize needs around me and be generous in meeting them. In Jesus name I pray. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Make The Most Of Time

It was 10:45am. I was in the kitchen hurriedly preparing a late breakfast. The phone rang.

“Hello, C’est Alain, malheureusement……..”

Everything else he had to say didn’t matter. I was elated. “Thank You, Lord,” I muttered under my breath. It was my physiotherapist calling to apologise that he could not make our 11:00am appointment for my Physio walk. Quite honestly, the last thing I wanted to do was go for the 2km walk planned for the day. It was wet, dull and cold outside. And my tummy and lower back were conniving to cause me distress.

I carried my plate of toasted brown bread and cheese sandwich and my cup of pomegranate tea to the dining table, and sat down to eat. I didn't have to rush my food into an already protesting tummy. Another thanks offering went heavenwards.

“So what are you going to spend the one-hour Physiotherapy time doing?” I am sure I had the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart.

I groaned—wasn't thinking about. But I had record keeping, work on the book manuscript, do some beading, call up a sister I needed to talk to, order supplies, and more on my to-do list. The pile of books just received and those pending to be read caught my eyes from the corner of my dining table. Then, I knew what I was going to spend the hour doing—read one of my waiting-to-be-read books. I pulled “True Confessions” out of the pile, studied the sunlit cover with the title embossed in black, opened it and began to read.

I learnt of Bola ‘Salt’ Essien-Nelson, the Author, through our mutual Sista, Bidemi Mark-Mordi. A link from her Facebook page took me to her blog: The Salt Chronicles in 2013. I was intrigued with ‘Salt’ as she calls herself. That is what she aspires to be—Salt of the earth, adding flavour to lives. I found the Salt Yellow Pages very informative. That’s what Salt does; she promotes others. I wanted my autographed copy of the “True Confessions” and longed to meet her in person.

In July, 2014 at the ROTH conference, I got the chance to meet her at last. It was the briefest meeting ever considering the fact that we had both looked forward to the opportunity of finally meeting at the conference. She came to my seat and gave me a huge hug. That hug spoke volumes. She wrote later that she felt if she hugged me long enough, some anointing will be transferred by osmosis! That’s Salt for you. But for me that hug made up for the time we could not share before, during and after the conference. Things didn't just go according to our plans. God’s plans prevailed.

 I spent the next couple of hours, adding my rest time following physiotherapy, reading the Dedication, Thank You, Foreword, Introduction and seven Salt Fables. Then surfed through to the end. This book is not going to be read in a hurry. It is the kind that you take sip, turn around in your mouth, and savour the flavour before swallowing. Published by Verbatim Communications, it bore the evidence of their characteristic good quality job. The pages were vanilla in colour, reminding me of vanilla cream cakes. The black lettering readily jump off the pages—friendly to the eyes.

The Salt Fables was as easy to read as reading Bedtime stories or folklore. Written in a simple language, I felt as if I was reading out to my children. Yet it was full of flavoured nuggets that will make you pause and ponder.

My take-away so far from True Confessions:
-          I wore a Teal-coloured bracelet with Never Give Up inscribed on it every day for three and half years. So the message from Once Upon a Barracuda and a Glass Wall resonated with me.
-          The Ping-Pong match in the name of loving that husbands and wives often play with each other was the message of Once Upon A Circle of Love. “When you fall in love, you cease to wait to be loved. You love instead….Genuine love given freely comes back.”
-          Ewa, Iyanu and Oge, though renowned and accomplished turned out to be empty in the things that matter. I chose to be Imole, the Light that radiate solutions. Because simply put; Beauty, Genus and Knowledge are not enough in themselves if the Light of the glory of God is not radiating through me. That’s the nugget I gleaned from Once Upon A Woman.
-          Effective communication results in vibrant and health relationship between husbands and wives. I ended Once Upon A Discussion praying, “Dear Lord, please reveal anything that would hinder my husband and I from communicating effectively. Do give us the grace to remove such barriers in Jesus name. Amen”
-          Is God your grocery shop or the friend you like to spend time with every morning and all day long? Find out in Once Upon A Friend.
-          Your now and your future is bigger than your past when Jesus comes into your life and give you a turn around. If you don’t believe me, check out the Award-Winning harlot sharing her testimony with the former notorious corrupt Zaki who dined with Jesus, and the hard-hearted murderer who became one of the greatest Apostles, whose letters are still touching lives for good till today.
-          I felt like tearing out Once Upon a Twenty-Seven Year Old Virgin, photocopying and sharing it with all my aburos in the Lord. I will do no such disservice to Salt. Rather I will make sure each of them get a copy this book, and encourage them to read it.

Insightful and enriching, it was great fun and relaxing reading True Confessions with the deep truths it conveyed. I strongly recommend the book. Both kindle and paperback editions are available on Amazon.

It was two hours well spent. Well spent because it contributed towards a specific goal. Though, I did have my physical therapy to strengthen my muscles and build my endurance that day, and obviously did not reach my daily goal for number of steps walked but I had a soul therapy, as I was encouraged to do some soul searching.  Subsequently, I exercised my spiritual muscles in prayers.

“Making the most of your time, because the days are evil” 
– Ephesians 5:16 (NASB)

The English Standard Version of this verse encourages us to make the best use of time. I have been pondering a lot recently on the use of my time. I pondered on how the things I spend my time doing contribute towards fulfilling God’s purpose for my life and to taking me in the direction of fulfilling my dreams and desires. It became even more important as I learn day after day that we must live each day ready for the coming of the Lord and to be prepared to fly away empty.

The import of this for me is that I have to be wise in the use of time. You can only make hay when the sun is shining. We have been called to make the most or the best use of every opportunity God has given us to impact lives for good, to make a difference in our spheres of influence and to fulfil our God-ordained purpose.

Believe me when I say, an apple does not fall far from the tree. It was a 20-year old young man who inspired me to start measuring my time in goals and to make time work for me. In his blog post, Time Mastery, Akan Nelson opined that by doing this we think of the long-term in the use of time, and we are enabled to weed out activities that don’t contribute to our long-term goals.

Living each day ready translates to making the most of our time and every opportunity God gives us to make a difference. Today’s blog post has a two-fold mission:
1.       To call our attention to be intentional and purposeful in the use of our time
2.       To spotlight my Sista’s inspiring work, which I promise will truly bless, enrich and inspire you.

Dear Friends, I encourage you to make your time work for you and take you towards living a purposeful life. This way, you will fly away empty having used all the gifts, potentials and skills God endowed you with, and you would have used them for His glory and honour.

Grace and peace be multiplied to you and yours.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Fly Away Empty

This world is not my home I'm just a-passin' through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Truly, this world is not my home. Home is in Heaven. A place of indescribable beauty and of luminous light—brilliantly illuminated by the glory of God. A place radiant as pure gold, translucent as glass and clear as crystal where we will walk on streets of gold. All manner of precious gemstones forms its foundation. I can’t imagine what that looks like—all the agate, jasper, carnelian, topaz and amethyst in my beading inventory put together don’t give me a glimpse. Now add sapphire, emerald, onyx, chrysolite, beryl, chrysoprase and jacinth to the mix. What a delightful glow that must give.

There is absolutely nothing on earth that is worth missing heaven for.

Heaven—a place of joy and untold pleasures as we dwell in the presence of God and all tears are wiped away. A place of endless praise and worship with a vast crowd angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim singing “Salvation and glory and power belong to our God.” And the twenty-four elders cast down their crowns in worship and adoration of God Who sits upon the throne. A glorious place where we will never get tired of gazing at His face.

Holy, holy, holy!  All the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
(Methodist Hymn Book.  Written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826).

I am here on assignment. I am here to fulfil a purpose in God’s Kingdom agenda. On a bright morning, perhaps the sun will be shining bright in the sky or maybe it will be in the dead of the night with the moon’s silvery beams lighting the sky, whatever time of day or night, one thing is sure, I will hear the voice of my Maker and Master as He calls me back home. Then I will say, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on to the light, lead me home.”

I’ll fly away O Glory I’ll fly
When I die Hallelujah by and by
I’ll fly away O Glory
To the land where joy will never end
I’ll fly away

On that glorious day, I will cross the river. I will fight life’s final war with pain. And then as death gives way to victory, I will see the lights of glory and I will know my Saviour lives (“Because He Lives – Bill Gaither).

Therefore, one thing I must make sure of is that I don’t answer that call and appear before the throne of grace with my hands still full of gifts and talents that I should have given out to impact lives. I must not appear before God without fulfilling His purpose for me. Oh no, that would be the greatest tragedy.

The home-call of Dr. Myles Munroe and his wife Ruth, on Sunday, November 9th, was a wake-up call and a reminder that we know not the day or the time when we will answer that call. It is also sounded a resounding note of warning to everyone who has ears to listen that we must live each day ready.

Knowing the impact that Dr Myles Munroe had on many lives and understanding that we cannot sorrow like them without hope, I praised God for his life and for what God used him to accomplish. I read and listened to some of his messages. Here are some nuggets that ministered to me.

The Christian Character:
The first thing that I recalled was his last trip to Lagos, Nigeria where he spoke on the Christian’s Character. My Sista, Salt Nelson-Essien, shared a summary of his message on her blog, The Salt Chronicles—The Ugly Truth; Many Christians Have No Character and The Ugly Truth Part Two: We Christians Need To Get Some Character. Here's my take-away from the message:
·       Character is the essence of God. He is constant and unchanging. And we are created to reflect the image of God.
·       Character is our commitment to a set of values. It is integrating our word with our actions. Character is integrity
·       We should be like dry cement. Set in our ways. And our ways should be God's ways. 
·       We must stand resolute like a statue on the side of what is right in God's eyes.
·       Can you be counted on to remain “you” wherever you are, no matter who is watching?
·       Lack of character cancels our power to influence. It makes you to compromise. Compromise steals destiny, and robs the nation of leaders who can rule in the fear of God and make a difference.

Character is both developed and revealed by tests, and all life is a test.
 – Rick Warren.

The greatest tragedy is not death but it is life without purpose:
The message below was the second thing that struck me.

This one is going to stay with me for a long time to come. How can anyone created in the image of God live a purposeless life? Yet many live without an understanding of the purpose for which God released them to the earth and without pursuing that purpose.

“The original purpose for a product determines its design, composition, capacity, and potential. Purpose may be defined as “original intent” or “reason for creation.”- Myles Munroe

The only way we can fully understand God’s original intent for each of us is by knowing God. The more of God we know through studying His word and dwelling in His presence, the more we become familiar with His purpose for our lives. Every detail of my life and every experience God takes me through aligns me with His purpose for my life.

“Circumstances and crises are God’s tools to move you into your purpose
and the maximizing of your potential.” – Myles Munroe.

Life Will Go On The Day After:
“The embassy doesn’t shut down because the Ambassador is recalled,” there were the words of my Sista, Bidemi Mark-Mordi, as she reflected on the passing of Dr Myles Munroe. She concluded with a note to  remind her that she is not indispensable.

When I visited the Myles Munroe International Facebook page, this was the message posted there.

We would like to inform you that the Global Leadership Forum will continue. The Forum will be for two and a half days. This is what Dr. Munroe would have wanted.,,,

Twice I organized very important events but on the day of each of these events I was not there. On the morning of the first one in May 2003, I was in an ambulance on medical evacuation from Tamale to Accra in Ghana. On the second occasion in April 2013, I was in a coma in the hospital. The two events went very well and were successful, without me.

Irene to self: if you do your job very well, things will go on well without you.

What Really Matters?
Today is God’s gift to you and me. James 4: 13-17 gives us a stern warning when we boast about tomorrow. “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it is here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “if the Lord wants us to, we will life and do this or that”’ (The Message). 

If you know today is your last day, how would you choose to live it?

“Embrace the importance of now, and refuse to allow the lull of comfort, fear, familiarity, and ego to prevent you from taking action on your ambitions (your dreams)… The cost of inaction is vast. Don’t go to your grave with your best work inside of you. Choose to die empty.” 
– Todd Henry (Author, Die Empty)

Bottom-line: Today is the best day to do that task and assignment that you know God has committed to your hands in all the sphere of influence He has given you.

Irene and friends, I challenge you today to live ready. Live aligned to your God-given purpose. Use the gifts God has given you to the fullest. Be prepared to fly away empty. What matters the most is that we hear;

"Well done, thou faithful servant!"

If the Lord permits, I want to look back on the day my body is committed back to earth and see those whose lives my life impacted while on earth giving praise and adoration to God, and celebrating a purposeful life. Oh, I would love to see them all brightly dressed with a touch of gold, carnelian (orange) and amethyst with hands lifted up in worship.

What impact are you making that the echo of which will continue to resonate long after you have gone home? Who are you mentoring? Your greatest and lasting legacy is the people you invested in.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Unchanging Constant In Constant Change

A cold breeze drifted across my face and neck. My hands swung up instinctively to protect my chest. My neck was bare in my purple jersey blouse.  I looked back and longed for the warmth of the Pharmacy I just came out off. The scarves on the display rack by the door beckon to me. The image of scarves in my wardrobe flashed across my mind. “Not a chance,” I muttered under my breath. I looked up the road to see if the bus was round the corner, it was not. I still have five more minutes to wait. So I fastened the top buttons of my jacket, dipped my hands into the pocket and began to pace the front of the Pharmacy.

The Bus came and I climbed into its warm interior. It was the second time that I came out by myself and was riding the bus back home. A feat I could not have dared in the previous eight years. I remembered that warm sunny September afternoon when I rode the bus for the first time after eight year. The joy exuding from my heart was beyond description. A change had taken place in my life and it was a change for good.

Change is taking place around me. By the time I got out of the bus at my stop, the cloud had passed and the sun was out in the white sky. Dry leaves rustle under my “Feet of Grace” as I walked home until I got to the forest. The sun was shut out under the dense canopy of evergreen trees. It was dark and chilly again. The leaves laid dead and rotting along the path still wet from the rain of the previous day. Home was in sight when I emerged into the brightness of the sunlight on the other side. I marvelled at the changes along the path home.

Take the chilly winds. Give me cool blue sky. Take the heat. Give the gentle breeze softly caressing my cheeks. Take the layers-of-onion dressing. Give me the light cotton blown in the wind. The season is changing. Like it or not, I must embrace the change.

Cold chill lured me to snuggle deeper in bed under the warm duvet. I dared not. My list of things-to-do was as long as my arm. I smiled.

You are faithful in every way, O Lord, You are faithful in every way.

I was awed as I recalled that time my agenda was snow-white and I had no-where I needed to be. When I spent the day sitting on my hands and staring out of the window. A change has occurred. My heart gave praise to the unchanging God.

Change is a constant in our lives. God always speak and come through for us in the time of change. We go through different kinds of change at different times in our lives. Change occurs in us, within us and outside of us. Seasons change. Conditions change. Circumstances change. There are changes we welcome and rejoice in. There are changes that causes our hearts to grieve. Change is the constant that we cannot run away from. In the midst of change, there is a constant that we can run to and hold on to. He declared; "I am the Lord, I do not change" (Mal. 3:6).

“God is in the change but He does not change. It is important to know what is not changing when life changes” – Pastor Walter Thomas.

I see God in the splendour of autumn. Beyond my bedroom window, confetti of dry leaves painted yellow, brown and russet floating down to the ground at the command of the wind speaks to me as I gaze on their mesmerizing hues. They announce the change coming upon the trees set aglow by the golden beams when the sun set.

I opened my wardrobe doors, the yellow post-it squares pasted on the inner side of the doors caught my attention. I pasted them at my eye level on the wardrobe doors, my bathroom mirror and on my bed post several years ago. They were to remind me to keep my gaze focussed on the unchanging faithfulness of God in keeping His word in all the seasons of my life. Aged and faded, some hanging bowed like yellow autumn leaves outside my bedroom window, the message they bear remained unchanging and constant—the truth of God’s infallible promises.

The time I spent standing by the wardrobe, reading and meditating on the promises of God with tears in my eyes flashed before my eyes and a song of praise sprung up in my heart.

Mighty God Faithful God oh oh oh
From age to age You're still the same
You never change, You never fail, You never let me down
Take all the glory, take all the honour
I bring to You
I lift my voice to You, Awesome God
I lift my voice to You, Awesome God,
Awesome God, Awesome God.
 (Frank Edwards)

I continued my contemplation of God’s constancy as I lingered in the shower. The rivulets of warm freshness streamed down my body, cascading into a fall beyond my stumps. Then I remembered the many days of bed-bath in the hospital, when I longed so much for a shower until tears trickled down the sides of my face into my ears. I recalled the day my nurse asked me, “Madame Irene, voulez-vous prendre une douche a la salle-de-bain, aujourd’hui?”
“Do I want a shower?” I squealed. My heart leaped for joy.
“Yes! Yes!! Of course, with all pleasure. Merci, merci beaucoup.”

My nurse wheeled me into the high-walled plastic tub, latched its door behind me and released the shower. Warm water gushed out, I was filled with joy like a child dancing in the rain. I cupped the water in my hands and poured it on my face. Never had a shower felt as good as it was that day.

My heart ignited with praise as I pondered on the goodness of God and the amazing changes which have taken place in my life since then. God exalted my horn and lifted me from the dark valley of the shadow of death. He broke off the confinement of afflictions.

I drew back the shower curtains, my bathroom was engulfed with steam and the mirror covered with mist. Through all the seasons of my life, God has remained the same—steadfast, sure and faithful. When the gusty winds of storms whirled around me, He remained constant—a solid rock upon which my hope was anchored. As soon as I finished drying myself, I grabbed my camouflage-green notebook and began to scribble this offering of praise, until the mist cleared and the mirror reflected the image of my face glowing with gladness.

O God, my help in ages past. My hope for years to come.
My shelter in the stormy blast. And my eternal home.
(Paraphrased from the Methodist Hymn Book.)

This, indeed, will be my song of testimony as 2014 fades away in eight weeks’ time and we usher 2015 in. As I reviewed the year passing, I was assured again of the constancy of God’s faithfulness in all our changing circumstances and seasons.

Dear Friends, as you to look back into 2014 and recall God’s abundant goodness in your life, I encourage you to bring an offering of praise to Him. As you look back, perhaps all you see are the undesired changes that have occurred in your life and the dreams yet to be fulfilled, yet I know you can attest to one thing that has remained constant and unchanging—God’s unfading and enduring love for you. For this and more, God deserves your sacrifice of praise.

God loves you in every season
Yet His love is not seasonal
He loves you in every circumstance
Yet His love is not circumstantial
He loves you in every condition
Yet His love is not conditional
(Roy Lessin,

Celestine Nudanu’s Haiku Poems: Carpet of Blessings and Autumn posted on Reading Pleasure inspired some of the imagery in this post.

Friday, October 31, 2014

An Unusual Instruction

October is my birth month. A few years ago, I resolved to do something different during the month to enhance my relationship with God—devoting more attention to dwelling in the presence of God. A personal retreat—sometimes through extended period of praise and worship or a deeper and extended study of the Bible.

Last September, I started a 100-day Ministering Gratitude to God based on Ps. 119:164. So I assumed this was what God would want me to do during October but on October 3rd, God laid the message below on my heart.

“Write as an offering of praise and thanksgiving to Me.”

This was an unusual instruction. I was at a critical point in writing my book, which has been protracted for a long time. In September, God gave me a renewed resolve to complete this assignment. I was also at a crossroad in deciding how to divide my time between writing, beading (for income-generation) and the other activities demanding my attention. I had also just done a study of Leviticus; I understood from there that the offering we bring to God must be carefully considered and prepared, wholesome, choice and without defect. God deserves the best we can offer. So I needed to understand what God is asking of me.

How do I write as an offering of praise and thanksgiving to God?

I pondered on this question and posed the same to my husband as I sought his help in understanding this instruction. His response was that it is not about the quantity of time I spend writing but it is about my heart and motive. This helped me somewhat to address the conflict in my heart regarding spending time writing, and my desire to generate income by devoting attention to my beading business.

An Offering of Praise and Thanksgiving:
True offering of praise and thanksgiving must be in response to the works of God in our lives, that is, a spontaneous acknowledgement of the benefits we enjoy from God. True offering is expression of thankfulness, in obedience to God’s word, and with reliant prayer—relying on God to provide sufficient for our needs. It is an act of worship—giving to God the honour due to Him.

A sacrifice of praise is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge, confess and glorify God’s name (Hebrews 13:15-16). It is to be offered constantly and at all times, in proclamation of the power and might of God (Ps 68:34), with genuine trust in God, and with joy (Ps 27:6).

An offering of praise cannot be acceptable to God if it is offered with wilful disobedience in our lives (Hosea 14:2), compromise in our relationships, and corruptions in our speech (Leviticus 1:3).

 It has to be purposeful.  Not an empty ritualistic sacrifice. It has to be from the heart with reverence and awe of God. I am not doing God a favour bringing an offering of praise and thanks to Him. He is not dependent on my offering but He demands my heart—my motive must be to please God, to pay homage due to Him and to acknowledge His goodness. Therefore, my offering of praise must  continually spring from a thankful heart. It is confessing who God really is to me. A sacrifice of praise and thanks offered out of a sincere heart is acceptable to God.

We have been called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. We are also admonished that in all we do, we must do as unto God. It therefore means that my whole life must be an offering of praise to God. My writing is just an aspect of this.

Writing as an Offering of Praise and Thanksgiving:
I have no inkling of doubt that Writing is a ministry God called me to do. The ability to create with words is a God-given gift, which I am called to use for His glory. In understanding God’s instructions to write as an offering, I came to know that it applies to all my writings—the book and my blog are just channels through which I share the messages in my heart by the leading of the Holy Spirit, to inspire hope and encourage people.

It therefore means that I have to write with the following guiding principles:
-          In obedience to God. Whether in writing the book or writing the messages on the blog, it must be in response to the leading of God.
-          My writing has to be motivated by an appreciation of what God has done in my life. I must write with a grateful heart acknowledging God’s immerse goodness to me.
-          It has to be with compassion and sensitivity, and in response to the suffering of others. Therefore, I cannot write with calluses and hardness in my heart.
-          It will sometimes be at a cost. David said that he will not offer to God that which cost him nothing (2 Sam 24:4).
-          I will have to trust and depend on God to take care of my needs.

The last two posts on the blog “We Call, He Answers And He Reveals" and “Scars, Calluses And Hardness In The Heart" were the two toughest blog posts I have written since I started blogging. The decision to write these posts was very difficult.  Second only to the decision to be willing to share my personal life including my pains, trials, struggles and afflictions publicly on the blog, fully aware that it will not only make me vulnerable but also put my life and my family on display. And I had decided a long time ago never to be a subject of pity.

It was also challenging because I was calling not only myself but others to be vulnerable—be willing to open their pains and hurts up for healing, and to be willing to admit that there are scars, calluses and hardness in their hearts. And to willingly let go of those who have hurt and offended them. In sharing these hard truths, I was taking a risk as these persons may distant themselves from me in a reaction to this post. Following God’s leading had to come first before any other consideration if my writing is to be a sacrifice of praise to God.

Since I cannot exceed the truth in expressing the goodness of God, my offering therefore is genuine when it is about God's goodness. When this forms the foundation of my writing—the truth of God’s goodness—it makes my writing sincere and genuine.

It was, therefore, a joy on Monday, October 27th to read “Six tips For Christian Bloggers/Writers" on Imperfectly Perfect Lives.  It confirmed God’s instructions to me.

Unforgiveness, Holding to Hurts and an Offering of Praise: 
As soon as I wrote the above caption, I realised that unforgiveness and offering of praise to God cannot co-habit—the two words simply don’t go together in the same phrase.

The Bible says in Matthew 5:23-24:

“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.…”

From the foregoing, only reconciliation and forgiveness can co-habit with genuine offering of praise that is acceptable to God. Nothing else we do matters as long as we are harbouring unforgiveness, anger and malice, and holding someone—perhaps a child of God created in God’s image—bound in the prison of our hearts.

Simply put, our offering of praise cannot be acceptable to God if it is coming from an unforgiving and harden heart. We cannot truly offer praise with sincerity and in obedience to God out with unforgiveness in our hearts.

It means that I can forgive those who hurt me and be the first to make a move towards reconciliation and restoring a broken relationship as an acknowledgement and appreciation of the undeserved mercy God has shown to me. Though, it is never easy to let go of hurts and pain but when done in obedience to God, it becomes a sacrificial offering acceptable to God.

I received a novel titled, Burning Hurt, from a dear Sista in Nigeria last weekend. I read the book in five hours. It was the fastest I have ever read a book. Written by Unyime-Ivy King, Burning Hurt, confirmed to me in strong terms that hurting people hurt others and that we have to forgive to be free. We have to forgive to offer an acceptable sacrifice of praise to God.

In concluding this post, I want you to know that God loves the sinner but He hates sin. I am created to reflect the image of God, therefore like God, I can separate the offender from the offense, and give the offender a gift of mercy and forgiveness as an offering of praise to God. This way, I can deal with the suggestion that I am giving the offender a free-pass. It also means that I trust God to act on my behalf and vindicate me. Since Jesus, our Senior Advocate, has never lost a case we can assured that He will act in our best interest.

My dear Friends, you can stand on this truth.

God deserves the best in everything we offer to Him. If we are to live our lives for His glory as a 
living sacrifice acceptable to Him then we have to offer God our best in everything we do, starting with our heart.

I have a clearer understanding of God’s instruction now. I can write, and indeed live my whole life, as an offering of praise to God. What about you? Would you consider making every aspect of your life an offering of praise to God?